Paintings from Barbara Pence


Barbara Pence

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Contemporary Still Life

My paintings usually suggest some kind of story.  My goal is to hold the viewer in front of my paintings to invent their own narrative.

Aside from their possible symbolism, I have a strong affection for the objects themselves in my paintings.  Our lives are filled with objects, and we value them for many things, mainly related to their utility in our lives. However, our everyday familiarity with them often causes them to lose power to draw our attention.When an object goes into a painting, it is restored to the spotlight and we regard it anew and re-appreciate its special qualities. Partly for that reason I pay as much attention to an accurate rendering of the objects as I do to the symbolism of their presence.  I've recently begun adding an element of human presence in my still-lifes, particularly hands.

Why realism?  It seems to me that it narrows the distance between the viewer and the painting by not creating barriers to understanding. Viewers are not intellectually put off by being asked to “make sense” of an unrecognizable, abstract image.At the same time, use of realism runs the risk of seeming too obvious with respect to meaning. Therefore as the artist, my challenge is to structure the paintings so that the realism evokes more than a conventional emotion or reaction to the objects, thereby allowing deeper, perhaps more serious meanings to emerge for the viewer.  I do this in a variety of ways: by using unconventional perspectives, formats, and/or unexpected objects. Excellence in rendering, as well as beauty, are also always goals.